Editorial: FCC Should Move on ATSC 3.0

The FCC has voted to free up spectrum for new fifth-generation (5G) wireless broadband, but commission chairman Tom Wheeler has not committed to putting the pedal to the metal on a new advanced standard for that other indispensable wireless communications service: broadcasting.

Broadcasters want a chance to start rolling out the new interactive standard, while continuing to simulcast their regular signals (ATSC 3.0 is not compatible with old TV sets).

Since broadcasters are going to be making a forced march to smaller spectrum quarters following the incentive auction, it makes sense to coordinate that, where possible, with a new standard that will help them be more competitive in the world being remade by that auction of broadcast spectrum to wireless companies.

Wheeler has not said he would not meet the Oct. 1 deadline broadcasters are seeking for the FCC’s response to their petition. He just would not commit to it when asked.

The chairman can keep his cards close to the vest if he chooses. But we encourage him to meet that Oct. 1 deadline and approve the petition.